Blu-Ray Review: Entertaining ‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’

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CHICAGO – Comic book fiction has a long history of parallel world and alternate universe stories and it only seemed a matter of time before the popular DC Universe series of straight-to-DVD animated films got around to making one. After the so-so “Wonder Woman,” the less-than-good “Green Lantern,” and the slight improvement of “Superman Batman: Public Enemies,” the series has returned to what they do best - team heroics - with the entertaining “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths”. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

Compared to most of the recent DC Universe original animated films, “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” is a definite step up purely in the entertainment department but it’s not as well-developed, written, or executed as the fantastic “Justice League” series of the ’00s or the best DC Universe PG-13 film to date, “Justice League: The New Frontier”.

I still feel like the most recent DC Universe films, even with this one included, have been disappointing compared to the first three - “Superman: Doomsday,” “New Frontier,” “Batman: Gotham Knight” - losing some of their ambition in favor of something more likely to be seen on Saturday morning in the early ’90s, but I was more consistently entertained by “Crisis on Two Earths” than recent releases, especially the weak “Wonder Woman” and “Green Lantern” adventures.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 23rd, 2010.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 23rd, 2010.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers Home Video

Lex Luthor (Chris Noth) appears on Earth asking the Justice League to save his alternate universe from the wrath of the Syndicate, a group of villains that are basicallly an evil version of our League run somewhat like the mob by a Godfather-esque version of Batman known as Owlman beautifully voiced by James Woods. The vocal work by Woods makes “Crisis on Two Earths” worth a rental on its own. He’s a fantastic villain.

Of course, our Justice League includes Superman (Mark Harmon), Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), The Flash (Josh Keaton), Green Lantern (Nolan North), and Batman (William Baldwin) with the alternate universe Syndicate featuring the similar Ultraman (Brian Bloom), Superwoman (Gina Torres), Johnny Quick (James Patrick Stuart) and Power Ring (North again).

“Crisis on Two Earths” feels a bit overly familiar and generic at times but the action is incredibly well-choreographed and the voice work by Woods, Baldwin, Noth, and Torres is excellent. The screenwriting leaves a bit to be desired but it is a remarkably well directed and paced piece of work with a depth to the animation that hasn’t been seen in the DC Universe films before. I still prefer the cast of “The New Frontier” and the daring style of “Gotham Knight,” but “Crisis on Two Earths” is what most people are looking for with a release like this one - consistently entertaining.

It doesn’t hurt that the HD transfer for “Crisis on Two Earths” is perfect with a wonderful color mix and excellent line detail. The audio track is similarly above average with a well-mixed Dolby Digital English 5.1 track.

As for special features, “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” includes:

o DC Showcase: “The Spectre” - All-New Animated Short
o “First Look: Batman Under the Red Hood” - Exclusive Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Original Movie
o Green Lantern First Look
o Superman/Batman Public Enemies First Look
o Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess
o “DCU: The New World” - From Identity Crisis Forward, DC Comics Raised the Stakes with Talented Writers, Editors and Artists Pushing the Boundaries of What It Means to Be a Modern-Day Super Hero

o Bruce Timm’s Top Picks
o “A Better World” Part 1
o “A Better World” Part 2
o “Twilight” Part 1
o “Twilight” Part 2

o DC TV Pilot Episodes
o “Wonder Woman”
o “Aquaman”

‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ is released by Warner Brothers Home Video and features voice work by William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, Chris Noth, Gina Torres, and James Woods. It was written by Dwayne McDuffie and directed by Sam Liu & Lauren Montgomery. It was released on February 23rd, 2010 and is available on the official site. It is rated PG-13. content director Brian Tallerico

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